HBO is confirming the longstanding speculation that Game of Thrones season 8 won’t debut until 2019, along with the directors who will tackle the final six installments of HBO’s megahit fantasy series.

The seventh season of Game of Thrones was the most culturally pervasive season yet of HBO’s flagship series. Completely unmoored from George R.R. Martin’s novels, the plot ramped up at an exponential rate, as long scattered characters finally converged in an effort to take on the army of White Walkers that approached north of the wall. The show also confirmed the long speculated identity of Jon Snow, who joined forces with Daenerys Targaryen – in more ways than one. As the wall crumbled and the Night King led his army of ice zombies into Westeros, the stage was set for the epic final season.

Related: Game of Thrones Season 8 Scripts Had Cast ‘Applauding & Crying’

But fans are going to have to wait awhile. HBO is confirming the final season won’t bow until 2019. They’ve also named the show’s creative team for the final run of episodes; series creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, as well as series veterans David Nutter and Miguel Sapochnik will direct the final batch. Meanwhile, the writing staff will consist of Benioff, Weiss, and longtime show writers Bryan Cogman and Dave Hill.

Game of Thrones Beyond the Wall Jon Snow HBO Confirms Game of Thrones Season 8 Directors & 2019 Premiere

The 2019 premiere date is certainly disappointing for fans, but shouldn’t really be a surprise. The series’ producers have not only been taking longer between each season, they’ve also made clear that the final season will be the show’s most technically ambitious. That makes plenty of sense – the setup at the end of season seven promised the sort of massive effects driven action that’s generally relegated to summer blockbuster movies, which take years to make. Coupled with the fact that it’s been suggested each of season eight’s six episodes will be akin to a 90 minute movie, the production delay makes a lot of sense.

It also gives HBO the opportunity to spend 2018 preparing for their post-Game of Thrones reality. 2018 will see the return of Westworld, the sci-fi drama about a futuristic amusement park full of androids that HBO clearly believes will be Game of Thrones’ successor as the network’s flagship series. Westworld was nominated for a raft of Emmys for its first season, though failed to win in any of the major categories. 2018 will likely see Game of Thrones nominated for many of those same awards for its penultimate season, and some high profile wins would serve as a nice bit of promotion for the final season (though at this point it seems unlikely that anyone needs anymore motivation to tune in). Everyone will just have to be patient.

More: Can Lord of the Rings Compete With Game of Thrones?

Game of Thrones season 8 premieres on HBO in 2019.

Source: HBO

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